Devon Conway, who on Wednesday posted the highest score by an away debutant at Lord’s, revealed that having to wait three overs before facing his first ball turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The opener further revealed that after copping a few blows, he decided to take the short ball on.
Having torn the Plunket Shield apart for three years, all eyes were on Devon Conway on Day 1 when he walked out to bat alongside Tom Latham, but a strange 15 minutes ensued. Latham, bizarrely, somehow ended up facing each of the first 18 balls of the innings and it wasn’t until the fourth over that Conway got the opportunity to get a taste of Test cricket. The southpaw opened the scoring with a double on his fifth ball and, from thereon, did not look back.
Spending excessive amount of time at the non-strikers’ end can be detrimental to some batsmen, but, interestingly, speaking post Day 1, Conway revealed that the ‘wait’ worked in his favour. The 29-year-old, who’d never faced Broad or Anderson prior to Wednesday, revealed that being at the non-strikers’ end helped him assess both the conditions and the English bowlers, and asserted that the three-over period helped him settle into Test cricket.
"It took maybe three or four overs to face my first ball, but I was pretty grateful for that. It gave me an opportunity to have look at the bowling from the non-striker's end,” Conway said at the press conference post Day 1.
“I've never faced Broady and Anderson [before], so it gave me a chance to see how it was going off the wicket and get some clues from Tommy Latham. The communication was good and clear, so it gave me a chance before that first ball."
Conway ended the day on 136*, the highest score by any away debutant at Lord’s in Test history, but despite looking impregnable for most of the day, the southpaw, on either side of lunch, was troubled by Mark Wood rockets that were directed towards the body. The 29-year-old copped multiple blows and the short ball seemed destined to get the better of him. That, though, never happened, and Conway eventually found a way to deal with the bouncers and negate Wood’s threat.
When asked about the hostage passage, the debutant revealed that, after getting hit, he realized that Plan A was not working, owing to which he switched to Plan B - taking the short balls on.
"It was a challenge, because he was really digging it in. The nature of the bounce where I've grown up is, with that sort of length, you trust it going over the top of you and I didn't quite realise when he digs it in that short it's still only going to be chest or head height.
“Once I wore one or two on the body it was about coming up with Plan B here. The positions I was getting into was probably not ideal, so I thought just trust it and take it on. He's pretty quick but it's about being nice and still, being positive and making a quick decision."
A lot of things stood out from Conway’s sumptuous ton on Day 1, but arguably the most impressive factor was the pace at which he played. In the first hour of the day, the southpaw struck at over 80 and his ton came off just 163 balls, with him moving from 77 to 100 in just 23 balls. The debutant revealed that he has been working hard on keeping a positive mindset, and asserted that he is keen to never go into a shell.
"The biggest thing I've been working on is my mindset, trying to keep positive throughout. Last thing I want to do is get tentative, and if I'm in a look-to-score mindset, that gets me in the best positions, the decision-making is a bit clearer and that's when I'm at my best. That might be my strength right now.
"There was a lovely period from about 70 when I got balls in my areas, so I tried to stay positive. When I got to that moment I didn't overthink it, it was about acknowledging but still sticking with the job. It'll take a few days to sink in, but a pretty awesome day."
Conway, on Wednesday, managed to achieve something many greats of the game have failed to do - get into the Lord’s honor’s board. Incidentally, six years ago his skipper Kane Williamson also achieved the same honor, and Conway revealed that it was a special feeling to see his name be listed alongside all-time-greats.
"When we arrived at Lord's a couple days ago we walked into the changing room and got the opportunity to have a look at the all the legends and the names up on that honours board. Funny enough I had a conversation with Kane asking what it feels like to see your name on that board [for Williamson's hundred at Lord's in 2015], and the first thing he said when I went up into the changing room was 'Now you know what it's like, bro'. It's pretty cool, it's a great place and I'm grateful my name can go up there,” Conway said.